Sunday, April 08, 2007


(PICTURE: Nina Wang in her trademark miniskirt and pigtails. She put out a comic book with herself as the lead character.)

The richest woman in Asia died recently. Nina Wang. You can read one of her obituaries *HERE* but to get the full flavor of an interesting person, Google her name. She had 4 billion dollars but it couldn’t keep her alive. She was “only” 69.

I put “only” in quotes because today it’s less than the average lifespan. When I was a kid, the life expectancy was about 65. I believed statistics so I planned my life pretty much to live for 65 years.

“Let’s see, should I brush my teeth tonight? Aw hell, they’re not in bad shape; they should last to 65 if I skip one night.”

But they (they being the guys who figured the odds) were wrong. I’ve gone way past where I should have died. I’m now at death plus eleven and still going strong. I shouldn’t have skipped brushing my teeth those times. I should have taken better care of myself. But they misinformed me when I was a kid.

I guess that tycooness, Nina Wang (remember? The opening paragraph?) was kinda quirky. Her favorite meal was American fast food. Do you think Dr. House might raise his eyebrows at that?

Once, when returning from a long period overseas, I decided to try one of those McDonalds burgers I’d only read about. It gave me indigestion.

Many years later, if I occasioned to pass a Burger King near meal time, I would be sure to get a “Whopper.” That, I thought, was one of the best sandwiches ever. But then when I happened to live near a Burger King I discovered that the “Whopper” was best when taken with some considerable intervals in between.

My favorite American fast food became the Chinese take-out. You know, that stuff that they just pack into the Styrofoam folders. The irony is that I haven’t found anything like that here in Bangkok. I think Chinese-American food is unique to only one country.

Meanwhile, back to the subject. The tycooness was reputed to live on a budget of less than $400 (American) a month.

Now I am cheap in most respects and quirky. There are some things that I do that defy logic. For instance, I don’t like to throw out a sliver of soap. When a bar of soap gets thin, I will meld it into a larger bar by using them together until they are one. I doubt if that saves me a penny a month, but I always do it.

But why would someone worth billions of dollars limit their spending so severely?

They do it because it makes them happy.

I will write more on that subject.

In the meantime a cautionary note. Nina Wang’s husband was twice kidnapped. It was said he was too cheap to hire bodyguards. After the second kidnapping, he was never seen again. Nina Wang died of ovarian cancer. It was said she suffered the symptoms for three years but was too cheap to seek medical help until it was too late.


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